With new beginnings come new opportunities, and that has certainly been the case for GP Midgets in the 2018-19 season, with the club having been bolstered for the future by virtue of experiencing a significant resurgence throughout the state of New South Wales.
Spanning all the way back to the 1950s, GP Midgets were once a part of the upper echelon of speedway in NSW, with the club being well and truly in its prime throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, regularly attracting considerable fields as they raced on a regular basis at Liverpool Speedway on both dirt and tar surfaces.
While the open-wheel cars, which were fitted with motorcycle engines, continued to evolve over the years, so too did the sport of speedway itself and everything else within it, with the popular Liverpool Speedway track permanently closing its doors in 1989.
Transitioning back to being a full-time dirt track class, the NSW GP Midgets began to notice a steady decline in competitor numbers, which continued to affect the once popular class throughout the past two decades to a point where the club decided to make some significant changes in an effort to return the class to its former glory.
With the new committee focused on bringing the fun back to speedway racing in NSW and taking a fresh approach to their club, while also working closely with the Victorian GP Midgets club to support each other’s racing schedules, this season has been something of a revival for NSW GP Midgets, with car counts having now increased to double figures, reminiscent of the days of old.
Immense support has also been received from numerous tracks, with the club’s calendar consisting of approximately a dozen race meetings at Goulburn Speedway, Nowra Speedway and Cullen Bullen Raceway.
Not only has the club itself been given some new life, NSW GP Midget drivers have been reinvigorated by the changes. Having produced a number of drivers who went on to enjoy success in Sprintcars during the 1990s and into the early 2000s, such as Andrew Seckold and Adam Constable, there seems to be more incentive now than ever for drivers to either join or return to the fold.
Making a return to the class this season, NSW GP Midgets veteran Rod Saville has been an incomparable addition to the class, having completed a rare trifecta of winning the Australian, NSW and Victorian Titles, which has only ever been achieved by two other drivers in Ashley Booker (Vic) and Lester Appleton (Vic).
Another well-known name in speedway circles to have re-joined the class this season is Wally Kermond, who first competed in GP Midgets during the 1960s and ‘70s. Now 83 years of age, the experienced driver, who has also previously raced Super Modifieds and Sprintcars, has decided to return to his roots and prove that age is no barrier when it comes to pursuing your passion.
Also proving that it’s never too late to get started in GP Midgets, being over the age of 50, and that one needn’t break the bank to do so, NSW GP Midgets Secretary Adam Buckley made the decision to join the class in order to continue his dad Colin’s legacy, with Colin having raced with Kermond during the 1970s.
With Buckley collecting multiple feature-race podiums, newcomer Gary Bowyer, also over the age of 50, is another driver to have made a pleasing debut with the class, continually running towards the front of the field and recently picking up his maiden feature-race win at Nowra Speedway.
“NSW GP Midgets are in a really good place moving forward and we’re all about unity and enjoyment, as well as being a budget-friendly class,” commented NSW GP Midgets President Garry Coleman, who is the son in law of NSW GP Midgets legend Clive Pollett, who was one of the club’s founding members.
“Not only are we trying to make each race meeting as enjoyable as possible for the drivers, we’re also focused on putting on the best possible show for all of the spectators, which is why we now fully invert our feature-race fields, putting the fastest drivers to the rear, which makes for more of a spectacle.”
Holding the position of club president for the past season, Coleman, who raced throughout the 1980s, ‘90s and into the early 2000s and is also a former Australian GP Midget Champion, has welcomed his grandson Jackson Lea-Smith to the rans this season.
Closing what has been a fantastic season this Saturday night at Cullen Bullen Raceway with the final Gulf Western Oil Club Championship round, Saville will no doubt be looking to consolidate his lead in the championship point standings to end his season on a high.
NSW GP Midgets would like to thank Gulf Western Oil for their support of the Club Championship. Established in 1988, Gulf Western Oil is an Australian-owned oil manufacturer, which has formulated oil that is specifically compatible with GP Midget motorcycle engines. To find out more about them, visit their website at www.gulfwestern.com.au.
To find out more about NSW GP Midgets, get in touch with club secretary Adam Buckley on 0405 712 733, or join their group on Facebook by searching NSW GP Midgets - Official Group.